Tuesday Debate: Earth Hour

By Glenn, Jake and Maddie

Earth Hour (aka "the hour that saved the world") is held every year on the last Saturday in March by the WWF (not the same WWF which once held a casket match between Kamala and the Undertaker at Survivor Series '92). Earth Hour is meant to raise awareness of climate change by turning off non-essential lights and electrical appliances. In 2009, Earth Hour was held on March 28, between 8:30 and 9:30 PM. What follows is a debate over the merits and morality of last Saturday's event.

Glenn/Pro: Earth Hour alone will never solve our world's massive environmental problems, or so we thought until last Saturday night. At 8:30pm CST, the Earth turned off its lights for one hour and also turned a page on a past. Between the comments section of this website and graffiti in the worst parts of our nation's biggest cities, you've seen the debate over Earth Hour rage on like an uncontrollable fire. Like any fire, this one threatens to kill everyone in its path and affects people already in the most drought-filled areas. I supported Earth Hour because I think if people turn off their lights, it will lower our carbon footprint, which is what causes global warming. Also, it will force people to remember what it was like to live BEFORE we got fitted for our carbon shoes. That was a time when we didn't have lights, computers or even the internet. A happier time? Possibly, but it was certainly a time when we respected and reversed the beauty of mother nature. Now we treat her no better than Eric and Lyle Menendez treated their mother.

Jake/Con: I don't want anybody to be under the impression that I disrespect the Earth. I have never once called the Earth a bitch or slut, even when I felt the most betrayed by it. I love the planet we live on, it's beautiful and full of wonder that could only have been created by a higher power. There is simply no denying that. Yet, I feel that Earth Hour is an over-hyped bit of nonsense. The Earth already has its own day, now we're supposed to give it an extra hour on the last Saturday of March? Fuck that! We're supposed to turn off unnecessary lights and appliances? I already DO that. I don't go into my basement at night and turn the lights on if nobody is going to be down there. I'm not a mass murderer, and I don't behave like one. The people who organized Earth Hour, the WWF, should have spent their time organizing something that will actually help people. Instead they wasted their time putting together a single hour where we turn off lights. Organizing an hour encouraging people to go outside and pick up the Wendy wrappers whipping across their lawns would have served as a better cause, in my opinion.

Glenn/Pro: If you're trying to group me with Wendy's, I'm almost as offended as the children of Wendy's founder Dave Thomas were when they found out they were adopted. I agree with you that Wendy's does more to destroy our planet than Exxon, BP and Chevron combined. Where we differ though is the mutual exclusivity. I think you can work to pick up Wendy's trash and put them out of business while also turning off your lights for an hour to stop global warming. I don't mean to accuse you personally of turning on unnecessary lights but as you well know, there are several libertarians and Republicans in our country right now who will turn on every light in the house just to spite the Earth. If they'll do it for one hour, what's stopping them from doing it all the time? That's what Earth hour seeks to counter: the real energy usage of libertarians and the symbolic energy usage of human beings. I do not mean to imply that libertarians are not human beings, yet I realize that's how it will be taken.

Jake/Con: We could sit here all night trying to figure out ways to put Wendy's out of business and pointing fingers at emotionless, spiteful libertarians, but we just won't. Not tonight. While Republicans and libertarians are undoubtedly the Hans Grubers of the world, not all of them are trying to single-handedly bring the planet to its knees, begging for mercy, only to spit in its face and deliver a crushing blow to its (figurative) melon. My point is that we should always be turning the lights off if we're not home, unless its to ward off serial killers. Nor do wet need to leave our stereos on while on vacation, playing the latest Hootie and the Blowfish hit record, just because we think its not getting enough radio play. I think a person with even below average intelligence, and a normal level of hatred and spite for the planet, would turn off their appliances and lights just out of habit when heading to the local soda fountain for a lemon Coke. The WWF needs to stop shoving what we already do as a habit down our throats and pick up all these fucking spicy chicken sandwich wrappers that are cluttering up my front lawn, making it nearly impossible to walk outside without choking to death on the fumes of rotting chicken breast fillet fragments.

Glenn/Pro: I take your point that most people don't spend their time running stereos while on vacation or using lights in vacant rooms. But as I said earlier Earth Hour is also a symbolic gesture. Most Americans don't leave their car idling for hours in a garage (unless they're trying to kill themselves) but they do drive in excess of what they could be doing. The proof of this was shown last year when gasoline prices went sky high and gasoline driving went way down. Sometimes it takes market forces - look at me, sounding like a fucking libertarian - to make people change their behavior patterns, but sometimes they just need to think about it more. Thus the goal of Earth Hour. The cost of water has never gone up in my life, but at some point I stopped letting it run while I was brushing my teeth. This was because of the very successful Water Hour held in the early 90s, to celebrate the fall of the Soviet Union and encourage people to go longer without water.

Jake/Con: Earth Hour is symbolic to you, but for many people it is very real. For many people, like my grandparents, Earth Hour is the only thing they do in order to help the planet or other people. If WWF spent as much time promoting not throwing trash on the streets and breaking bottles in fragile ecosystems as they did promoting the Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. Vince McMahon storyline back in 1997 and '98 the entire Earth would be sparkling clean. I'd like to reiterate that I'm not against people doing Earth Hour, I'm against the WWF, who are wasting their time and money (that people donated) to promote Earth Hour instead of promoting something that could make even more of a global impact.

Maddie's Take: Wow! What a great debate, guys. With so many WWF mentions I am surprised things didn’t get more ugly—but then again, Earth Hour reminds us of nature, which makes us feel calm and at peace with the world, so I shouldn’t be too surprised things stayed so civil. Glenn makes the very important point that turning off lights does in fact waste less energy, and in turn lowers our carbon footprint and helps defeat the very real problem of global warming. Jake agrees with Glenn that turning off lights when not using them is a good idea, but he thinks the organizers should have put their money and energy behind an event that actually encouraged people do something more active, like picking up litter. Glenn is obviously right that Earth Hour was a symbolic gesture, but, in my humble opinion, that is what makes it dangerous. As Jake said, Earth Hour is the only thing his grandparents have done in their entire lives to help humankind in any way, shape, or form. It makes them feel like they are doing something important, when in reality they are just doing something they should be doing. This is why Earth Hour was a silly concept and why I am rewarding Jake as the winner of this debate.


  1. If Maddie is going to be siding with Jake every time I would like to ask that someone else be the judge of our debates - perhaps the EARTH ITSELF!

  2. i personally took part in earth hour even though i thought it was silly. as long as people know it's silly and such a small part of a huge problem, i have no problem with it. i apologize for saying silly so much. and i hated picking a winner because the thought of anyone losing anything, anywhere, makes me cry.

  3. glenn, i picked you as the winner last week. don't be so DRAMATIC!

  4. I finally win something besides the world's hungriest baby contest of 1983.

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. Can't you guys debate serious issues, like how temporarily taking care of foster children is way more profitable than adopting them? The free market has an answer for everything.

  7. great debate - bottom line. but, shouldn't everyone just pick up some garbage here and there? stop waiting for someone else to build the damn wagon!


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